2015 Niagara Open, BJJ, BJJ challenges, BJJ matches, brazilian jiu-jitsu, competition, female BJJ, gi, grappling, grappling emotions, grappling journey, Niagara Falls, nogi, Ontario BJJ tournament, post tournament food, tournament thoughts, white belt problems
So I actually attended the Ontario Open this past weekend and remembered that I should write about the Niagara Open, which happened at the end of March. Remember how I wrote earlier about the cut for this tournament being not so great and wanting to do better? It’s because I only just made weight this time with little room to spare, but thankfully nogi was the same day, so it wasn’t a problem. Going to Niagara Falls was kind of fun and it had a road trip-ey feeling to it. I haven’t been to the falls since I was a kid, so I was excited too to see the falls up close again (spoiler alert: it was too dark and cold so we just walked up and looked at it from a fair distance then walked back to the car). The tournament was in the convention centre, which is apparently a fairly new construction. The building was nice enough; there was a dance competition the same day so it was a bit surreal walking through crowds of costumed girls with more flexibility than I can ever dream of. The contrast was fascinating.
The main problem I had with the venue was that it was very dark over the mats, which was apparently a ballroom. I wonder if it was possible to turn the lights up more, since the mood lighting was a little weird, and it made taking photographs difficult, even during the day. Also, the sound system was so loud that it was difficult to hear the referees or being called for the weigh in. I was otherwise pleased with how the tournament was run.
Anyways, onto the matches and results!
I guess this is the match (and the tournament) that helped me learn that I really need to get mentally ready to roll. I’m experimenting with changing how I warm up, though it is hard sometimes because the warm up mats are always a little too small in some respects. Though the beginning is missing from the video, I felt that I should have been more active in general, which is what led to the point at which the video starts. Since then I’ve worked on improving my half guard and plugging all the little holes that are in it. I also started to understand that I do only have 5 minutes to work with, though a theme with me is that if I had only a little more time I could come back from the losing side. I do like the thrill of the reversal or the sweep and getting on top after being stuck on the bottom, but it’s obviously not a tenable strategy to win a BJJ match.
Up next is my absolute match, which I really felt ambivalent about. I ended up losing in the last second by an advantage, but fair is fair, I suppose. I thought that her penalty would count against it, but I was wrong. I have to brush up on the rules for advantages and penalties I think. She was a heavyweight (two weight classes above me), and I was stuck in her closed guard for most of the match. It was difficult to do the standing guard break, but I tried and succeeded in opening it a few times. The advantage happened because I didn’t think to stabilise myself and stayed on both knees – this is inherently an unstable position in open guard situations, and I got bowled over, but turtled up (hence the advantage). I’ve been practising standing guard breaks since the tournament, and Jeff gave me important advice during one of our fundamentals classes: don’t look at them and stay really postured and straight. I treat it now like I treat squatting heavy weight – I look up at a certain point where the wall and the ceiling connect to keep my posture strong.
Patricia clarified the points/advantages/penalties situation for me on Facebook, so I’ve decided to amend the post with what she told me: penalties come into play when the score is tied only; the advantage was awarded because time ran out, but if there was more time, she would have had sweep points if she had stayed on top (2) as turtling only prevents guard pass points, not sweep points.
This division was the one I was most disappointed by in and of itself, mostly because I thought we were doing best 2 of 3 matches since there were two of us, but the referee told us we had to agree on it, and my opponent said she was too tired to continue, which is fair, since she was also in my gi division and had a hard match (but in a separate part of the bracket). Now I know to ask the referee before any matches in a small division whether it’s possible to do 2 out of 3. She ended up doing an anaconda choke, which in my experience is always neck cranky – I didn’t feel like I was being choked, but my neck began to hurt, so I had to tap. I try now not to let people have that head and arm control necessary for anacondas and d’arce chokes, since I hate how they feel. She worked really hard to get the grips, so at least my defence is somewhat effective, however, I have to be careful with turtle and I can’t stay there too long – which is my main problem I think.
I do really enjoy doing absolutes, and I have faced Michelle before at the Ascension tournament earlier this year, though in gi absolute. Michelle has good energy about her, is great at jiu-jitsu, and it’s always a blast to face off with her or to see her at tournaments. This match helped me learn to try to stay strong and keep my posture and have confidence in my abilities. She won by americana from top half guard, so again, this was something to add to my obsessive ‘perfecting’ of my bottom half guard game – trying not to give up any underhooks, ever, because they’re all mine. I’ve figured some quarter guard stuff out in the gi with an overhook, but it’s not as effective as the underhook and it doesn’t work in nogi.
Since there were four competitors in the nogi absolutes, the organiser was kind enough to let us have a third place match. What made me happy about this match (other than that it was the only one that I won) is that I hit the one arm mounted guillotine butterfly sweep thing that I was shown in nogi once (from turtle, not standing) and have drilled a whole lot. I didn’t manage to finish it due to posture, but I really like it as an option from standing or turtle. Johnny showed it to us after seeing it as a finish in a recent(ish) UFC. I’m happy too that even when I was on the bottom I managed to regain position – like what I wrote before about the thrill of the sweep, though reflecting on the omoplata sweeps I did, I didn’t really hook the leg and relied a little too much on my (robust, reason I’m in middleweight) legs. Also rewatching it near the end, I do what I always do to stay up by posting with my face. I think it’s ok, though I had to learn not to post too much towards my nose because it kept getting squashed. I really enjoyed my match with Greta; she had good heart and kept working even though I’m bigger than her. I met her again at the Ontario Open, and she might be coming to visit our gym soon.
After the tournament was over, we decided to go look at the falls, even though it was cold and dark. The concierge at the convention centre gave us good advice about parking and walks, and we were off. We decided to ride the Ferris Wheel, and I wanted to take photos, but it was a bit too dark. Also, we didn’t realise but it was Earth Hour, so the falls weren’t lit up until later.
After the Ferris wheel, we walked down Clifton Hill to go look at the falls, but it was cold and dark and lonely once we passed out of the main part of the street. I found the whole experience simultaneously over- and underwhelming. It seemed much bigger when I was a kid but the strong, tacky-tourist focus of Clifton Hill (where we were advised to go) was equal parts nostalgic and off putting for me. I don’t like spending too much time in loud, bright places like that. I understand why other people like it and revel in it, but I think it’s just not for me all the time. I’m glad that we went though, because the falls are wonderful, and I love them. I’d like to visit again in the day.
After sort of completing the walk to the falls, we stopped at Wendy’s because we were a) lazy and b) cheap c) weight cut reasons. I learned you can ask them to make your food fresh. I also took the opportunity to revive my favourite genre of selfie; I like selfies of reflections a lot, but I also like selfies where I, the subject, am very small.
Anyway, I suppose I’m digressing a bit far from the tournament-oriented nature of the post, so I’m going to leave it here, and hopefully in another few days I’ll write about the Ontario Open (famous last words). I’m really hoping to update more frequently; I was just ever so busy this past month.